Mohenjo Daro

The archaeological site of Mohenjo Daro is located in Sindh Province, Pakistan, 20 kilometres south of Larkana County and about 500 kilometres away from Karachi. It is a famous tourist attraction in Pakistan. Between 1921 and 1922, archaeologist Banerjee discovered the ruins of this ancient city built about 4,500 years ago on the sand dunes of the main stream of the Indus River.
In 1980, according to the cultural heritage selection criteria (ii) and (iii), the Mohenjo Dalu archaeological site was approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to be included in the World Heritage List as a cultural heritage because it witnessed the prototype of early urban planning. Directory.

Selection based on criteria

The archaeological site of Mohenjo-Daro is the oldest planned city in the Indian subcontinent and had a huge impact on the subsequent urbanisation of human settlements in peninsular India.

Selection criteria 

As the oldest and best-preserved urban ruins in the Indus Valley in the 3rd century BC, the archaeological site of Mohenjodaro is an outstanding testimony of the Indus Civilization.

World Heritage Committee evaluation

This large-scale city is located in the Indus River Valley. It was built in 3000 BC, and the building materials were entirely rough bricks. The site includes an acropolis, built on a huge roadbed and surrounded by ramparts. This low-slung city followed strict standards, and the remains of early urban planning can be seen in these ruins.

Development History

Mohenjo-daro is one of the early ancient cities in the world, known as the “metropolis of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization “. Other ancient civilizations during this period include ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and Croatia. Ritter civilization. Mohenjo-Darota is considered to be an urban civilization created by the Dravidians (dwarf black people) before the invasion of the white Aryans in ancient India. The archaeological site of Mohenjo Daro is located in Larkana District, Sindh Province, southern Pakistan, near the right bank of the Indus River. The earliest civilization in the area where present-day Pakistan is located developed in the fertile Indus River Basin. By about 2500 BC, larger cities had appeared here, one of which was Mohenjo Daro.

A “buried ancient city”

buried ancient city
buried ancient city

Mohenjo-Daro, also known as Death Hill, is an important city of the Indus Valley Civilization. It was built around 2600 BC. It is located in the Sindh Province of Pakistan, 20 kilometres south of Larkana County, and about 500 kilometres away from Karachi. Mohenjo-daro is an early ancient city in the world, known as the “metropolis of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization”. Other ancient civilizations during this period include ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete.
However, such an early ancient city has disappeared in history. Between 1921 and 1922, archaeologist Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay of the Archaeological Survey of India, led by a monk, discovered some on the sand dunes of the main stream of the Indus River. “Strange prehistoric relics”. After further excavation, this “buried city,” built about 4,500 years ago, became known. According to research, Mohenjo-daro was built around 2600 BC and abandoned around 1900 BC.

Archaeological experts

In the 1930s, extensive excavations were conducted under the leadership of John Marshall, KN Dik Shit, Ernest Mackay, and other archaeological experts. The car used by the excavation site supervisor was lent by John Marshall and is still placed in the Mohenjo-daro Museum, showing the hard work and enthusiasm of their excavation work. Later excavations were carried out by Ahmad Hasan Dani and Mortimer Wheeler in 1945.
The most recent major excavation was conducted in 1964–1965, led by Dr. GF Dales. Later, excavations were banned due to weathering damage to the unearthed structures. Since 1965, the archaeological programme has been limited to the rescue of unearthed artefacts, ground surveys, and site maintenance. Despite the ban on major archaeological heritage projects, in the 1980s, a German and Italian survey team led by Dr. Michael Jansen and Dr. Maurizio Tosi combined techniques such as architectural artefacts, ground surveys, ground excavations, and detection to search for the ancient Indus Valley civilization. clues.

Manhattan in the Bronze Age

This “buried city” is the ruins of an ancient city from the Bronze Age. Mohenjo Daro’s urban master plan was very advanced and scientific. It was a great achievement in civil engineering at the time and was called the “Manhattan of the Bronze Age”. But in Sindhi dialect, the real meaning of Mohenjo Daro is “Mound of the Dead”. This most representative urban ruin from the heyday of the ancient Indus civilization finally began to be revealed in the 20th century after being buried underground for thousands of years.

The city site covers an area of about 8 square kilometers. The entire city is like a chessboard. Each residence has 6 to 10 rooms and a yard. All buildings are made of red bricks. The entire city has a complete sewer system. The entire city is divided into several parts, including a “castle” located on high ground and a lower urban area. A broad main road runs through the city from north to south, with small east-west streets intersecting it at right angles every few meters. In addition, there is an irregular network of alleys connected to the small streets. The walls of the residential houses are very thick, indicating that they are at least two-story buildings. Most of them are multi-room buildings.

Large Houses

Some houses are very large and include several courtyards. It is a simple one-room house. [3]
The entire city is divided into several parts, including a “castle” located on high ground and a lower urban area. A broad main road runs through the city from north to south, with small east-west streets intersecting it at right angles every few meters. In addition, there is an irregular network of alleys connected to the small streets. The walls of the residential houses are very thick, indicating that they are at least two-story buildings. Most of them are multi-room buildings. Some houses are very large and include several courtyards. It is a simple one-room house.

Houses were built of fired bricks, and, according to archaeologists, “the fineness of the bricklaying could hardly have been improved.” The ground floors of most houses facing the road were bare and windowless—an urban custom that was still observed in many parts of the Near East to protect against weather, noise, odours, neighbour harassment, and bandits. Usually the main entrance of the house is located in the alley at the back, facing a spacious foyer and a courtyard in front. The house has good lighting and ventilation.
While Europeans were still living in villages and Stonehenge was being built on the British Isles, the Harappans living in the Indus Valley already had one of the most advanced water supply and sewage systems in the world. In Mohenjo-Daro, a network of wells provides each neighbourhood with a convenient source of fresh water.

Bathing platform

Almost every home has a bathing platform, and many also have toilets. The city also has an extensive drainage system to carry away excess water. The Great Bath, excavated in 1925, is a large brick pool surrounded by a large building complex. It is located in the very centre of the city’s public sector and contains a pool of deep water. It was a technological marvel at the time and one of the most outstanding in ancient Indian architecture. Also unique.

Most researchers consider the large bathhouse to be more than just a public bathing area. The large baths and numerous bathing platforms suggest that baptismal rituals were prevalent in society at the time and are still common today in Pakistan and India.
According to archaeologists, during the Mohenjo Daro period, commerce, agriculture, the processing industry, and other industries were extremely developed. Although the lifestyle of ordinary people may be quite simple due to the production and economic level at that time, there is still no shortage of luxury goods found in archaeological discoveries.

Stone statue

Mohenjo Daro Stone statue
Mohenjo Daro Stone statue

In terms of art, there is a stone statue of a man with a height of 19 cm. It is one of the few stone sculptures found in Mohenjo Daro and can be called a masterpiece. Some exquisite metal products, jewellery, and pottery are also being unearthed. In addition, a large number of seals engraved with mysterious words or patterns were also found in Mohenjo Daro.

Almost more difficult to explain than the creation of these miracles is the fact that the civilization of the great city of Mohenjo Daro suddenly disappeared sometime in the first half of 2000 BC, leaving almost no trace of its continuation. There are different opinions on the reasons for the destruction of ancient civilizations, including foreign invasion, flooding, and desert encroachment. No one has been able to decipher the enigmatic words on the seal. Where did these intelligent people who mastered hieroglyphics, carving arts, and had a talent for urban planning come from? No one really knows. They and the advanced cultures they created seemed to have arisen accidentally from the strange and rarefied air of ancient times and then suddenly disappeared.

Today, Pakistan is racing against time to save Mohenjo Daro as much as possible. Since excavation work began in the 1920s, 30% of the city’s exposed ruins have collapsed. If the deteriorating condition of Mohenjo Daro cannot be curbed, this ancient city with a 5,000-year-old civilization will disappear again. This time, I will be gone forever.

Brilliant culture

Brilliant culture
Brilliant culture

These two ancient city ruins, together with other ancient urban cultural ruins successively discovered in the Indus River Basin, are distributed over a vast area of about 1,500 kilometres from east to west and about 1,100 kilometres from south to south. Historians call them the Harappan culture. Among these ancient cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa are the two largest cities.
During the excavation of the ruins, people were surprised to see the extraordinary power of the ancient Dravidian people to create history.
The architectural shapes of these two ancient cities are roughly the same, and their circumferences are both more than 3 miles. Among them, Mohenjo Daro covers an area of 260 hectares and consists of two parts: the Acropolis and the Lower City. There are tall towers built around the Acropolis.
There are large baths, large granaries, spacious conference halls, and many other public buildings in the city. In addition, the ancient city also has wide avenues, reasonably arranged alleys, a complete drainage system, and exquisite water wells.
These all show the careful design and high level of technology used by the ancient Dravidian people when building their cities.
There are also various agricultural production equipment and handicraft tools left in the city; agricultural products include cotton, wheat, dates, melons, and fruits; livestock and poultry have been widely domesticated, including buffalo, sheep, camels, dogs, horses, chickens, etc. Industrial products include plain pottery, painted pottery, gauze, cloth, and bronze vessels.

Stone weights

The most striking thing is that a seal engraved with a rhinoceros and a large number of stone weights were also found among the relics. From the comparison, we can know that the Dravidians at that time had mastered the calculation rules of the decimal system, and the basic unit of weight was 0.86 kilograms. Fragments of a ruler made of shells were engraved with precise graduations; ships were also found in the city, which led people to believe that at that time, based on the considerable development of agriculture and handicrafts, commerce had also developed. Many merchants gathered in the city to conduct business and have trade relations with overseas countries.

The ancient city has a circumference of about 5 kilometres, and its population is estimated to be at least 30,000–35,000. The city is divided into two parts: the acropolis and the lower city. The acropolis is obviously where the rulers live. There is a very complex underground drainage system and water supply system here. The acropolis is surrounded by tall and solid walls (the acropolis wall of the ancient Harappa city is 15 metres high, just like a solid fortress) and has tall towers.

Scholars believe

There is a huge barn in the city (this seems to be the earliest “barn” discovered so far). Scholars believe that this shows that class divisions were already very serious at that time. “The city is neatly planned, and the main streets are 10 metres wide… There are light poles at regular intervals on the road to facilitate people walking at night.”
Among the unearthed cultural relics, there are also a large number of exquisite works of art, such as statuettes, bone carvings, paintings, etc. Among them, there are especially many amulet seals, amounting to more than 2,000. What is refreshing are the animal images and text symbols on the seal. According to statistics, there are nearly 400 of them, including human figures, fish shapes, foot shapes, table shapes, etc. Although they have not been accurately identified so far, people have reason to judge that at that time, the level of culture and art had reached a very high level.
In short, Mohenjo Daro in ancient times was a prosperous and beautiful city. It also shows that around 2500 BC, the Indian subcontinent had entered the early state stage. The city may have been the capital of the rulers of that time.

Site conditions

Scientists found scattered fragments of clay and other minerals that were sintered together. Experiments by the University of Rome and the Italian National Research Council have proven that the melting temperature of the ruins at that time was as high as 1400–1500 °C.
In 1978, British archaeologists David Bert and Wayne Sandy went on a field trip. They learned from the locals that not far from the centre of the ruins, there was a mysterious, off-limits place called “Glassed Town.” In the mine that was melted and solidified by the high heat, there were also fragments of pots twisted into glass, fragments of bricks stuck to the abnormal heat, fragments of bracelets made of black clay, and so on.
Because this “glass town” is a sacred place for locals, it is difficult to conduct in-depth excavations and investigations, and it is also unknown to the outside world. David and Bert did not stop there. They went through great hardships and brought back several specimens from the “vitrified town” and sent them to the Volcanology Laboratory of the University of Rome for analysis. The result was that the fragments of a specimen pot were reheated from the outside to the inside and then cooled rapidly. That is to say, it is heated at a minimum temperature of 950 degrees Celsius to 1000 degrees Celsius and then rapidly cooled. The second specimen, “Black Stone,” is a mineral made of quartz, feldspar, and glass. The dissolution point of this mineral is approximately 1400 to 1500 degrees.

Cause of destruction

Although Mohenjo Daro prospered over the centuries. By the middle of the 18th century BC, the Harappan culture suddenly declined, especially Mohenjo Daro.
However, scientists have made various speculations from different angles as to the cause of the destruction of the “Dead Hill”.

Natural disaster

Some scholars, such as R.L. Rex, S. Wilpat, etc., have explained it from the perspective of geology and ecology, believing that the ” dead hill event ” may be due to the diversion of the ancient Indian river bed, flooding of rivers, earthquakes, and The resulting floods destroyed the ancient city on the island in the middle of the river, and the residents in the city were drowned by the floods.
Moreover, geographically, Mohenjo-Daro is located on the lower reaches of the Indus River . There is little chance that downstream diversions will affect the midstream and upstream. Harappa is located in the upper reaches of the Indus River . Therefore, this hypothesis faces a problem, that is, although it can well explain the destruction of Mohenjo Daro, it cannot explain the demise of the entire Indus Valley Civilization.
In September 2022, Pakistan suffered unprecedented heavy monsoon rainfall . The floods caused by the heavy rain have killed more than a thousand people. Extreme weather also threatens the World Heritage Site of Mohenjo Daro archaeological site. On September 6, local time, Ahsan Abbasi, the person in charge of the site, said that several walls built 4,500 years ago in the site have collapsed and repair work is in progress. Although the floods did not directly hit the Mohenjo Daro ruins. The record-breaking heavy rainfall has caused damage to the ruins. “Due to monsoon rainfall, several walls built 4,500 years ago have collapsed.” 

Spread of plague

Some scholars speculate that it may be due to an acute infectious disease. That occurred in ancient times and caused the death of the entire city’s residents.

Foreign invasion

Some people suggested that foreigners attacked on a large scale and massacred the residents of the city. But who is the intruder? It has been suggested that they may be Aryans from the Vedic era.
Don’t forget the 15-metre-high city walls, towers, huge barns, and a population of more than 40,000. With solid city defences and sufficient food reserves, a population of 40,000 means at least 8,000 troops (referring to the number that can be recruited during war), not to mention that several cities of the same size have been discovered in the Indus River Basin.
Archaeologists have only found some pottery that is different from the local style. Which “suggests that a new cultural owner has conquered here.”
But only these pottery vessels were found. If the “foreigners” mentioned here also have advanced civilization. Then they should at least leave something else behind; and if they are just a barbarian tribe that has not yet entered a civilised state. Then they have to conquer the entire Indus River. The river basin seems impossible.

Unearthed cultural relics

A large number of seals were unearthed from the Mohenjo Daro site. These seals are made of jade and copper and are engraved with hundreds of characters and graphics. These characters have many similarities with Chinese oracle bone inscriptions. These characters have still not been successfully interpreted.
In fact, as early as 1875, seals engraved with animal patterns were unearthed in the Harappa area. But that didn’t go unnoticed. Archaeologists at the time classified it as the “primitive culture” of the Dravidians. The original inhabitants of India before the Aryan invasion, and believed that this civilization disappeared after the Aryan invasion. But Mohenjo. The discovery of the ancient city of Darrow forced historians to reconsider this issue.

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